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If you're ever on the queue waiting to buy tickets at 60 Boylston Street, keep on the lookout for Arthur Drinkwater. According to assistant ticket manager Keith Kozlowski, Mr. Drinkwater, who graduated from Harvard in 1900, "comes up to the window and buys tickets for every football game."
Of course, this is the time of year when 60 Boylston is inundated with ticket applications. In fact, even though ticket manager Gordon Page received 11,000 tickets for the Yale game from New Haven, twice this week he had to send away for a new batch after they sold out.
While Mr. Drinkwater will receive the best ticket of any alumnus on the basis of his seniority, each year the Alumni Records Office sends out applications for Yale tickets to all alumni living in the Northeast. Applications also stream in from Harvard alumni scattered around the globe who plan on making the pilgrimage to New Haven. Kozlowski says, "You should see some of the great stamps we get."
Page remembers that before the sellout Harvard-Yale game he received a call from England that was cut off three times. The caller claimed that there should be an extra ticket because President Johnson, who planned to go to The Game, had decided to stay in Texas.
"I figured anyone who was persistent enough to call from England three times deserved a ticket so we scraped one up for him," said Page.
This year over 3,000 undergraduate ticket applications were submitted, a total Page says "is a lot more than I ever remember having for an away game." Usually only a little over 2,000 undergraduates make the trek to the Yale Bowl.
To handle the reams of paperwork, Page hires three secretaries from an organization known as Cambridge Manpower to work for a week sorting applications. Bob Gantley, who last year was an offensive guard for the Crimson and now works in the ticket office, says it is students who make mistakes in ticket applications, not secretaries.
Although the processing of most applications goes without a hitch, Page and his minions are still haunted by a foul-up in 1967. Kozlowski recalls, "One of the assistants working in here at the time of the Yale game somehow forgot about the freshmen so 500 seats had to be put up on top of the stadium."
Tickets are assigned on the basis of a priority system worked out by the Faculty Standing Committe on Athletics. There are 13 gradations of priority with top administrators getting the choicest seats, followed by the standing committee, current and former varsity players, undergraduates, alumni, and graduate students. Every football letterman in Harvard gridiron history receives four complementary tickets for The Game.
About this time of year Yale tickets are like bread in a besieged town. There are never enough to go around. Page, who has been ticket manager for 11 years, is bombarded by irate alumni dissatisfied with their seats. He points out that the only contact many alumni still have with the University is through the ticket office, so the treatment they receive often affects their willingness to donate money.
"Ninety-nine per cent of this job is public relations," Page says. "We try to pacify people sitting in the endzone by explaining the priority system."
Kozlowski adds, "We get some nasty people--mostly grad students."
Of course, catering to the needs of over 11,000 Crimson faithful who each expect a seat at the 50 yardline has its headaches, but then again the next customer at the ticket window could be Jack Lemmon, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Tricia Nixon Cox, or, for that matter, Arthur Drinkwater.
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